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Mary Kate Olsen Needs Empathy and Support

Mary Kate Olsen, one of the Olsen twins, is battling anorexia nervosa, has thrown the spotlight again on the sometimes deadly eating disorder.

Anorexia nervosa primarily affects young women in their teens and early 20s, characterized by a pathological fear of weight gain and leading to faulty eating patterns, malnutrition, and usually excessive weight loss.

Michelle Morand, director and founder of The CEDRIC Centre, (Community Eating Disorders and Related Issues Counselling), hopes the family knows, ” Anorexia is a very complex and challenging issue, and it can be overcome and left behind for good.”

“There are many possible reasons why Mary Kate Olsen may turn to food as a coping strategy. The most important thing in this situation is that Mary Kate knows that full recovery is possible and that she is given ample time, space, and understanding by the people closest to her, and by the media, to explore the underlying reasons for her behaviour, and to make changes that will be lasting and most importantly, life enhancing.”

The CEDRIC Centre specializes in eating disorders, and related issues such as anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. All our counsellors have recovered from an eating disorder, and possess the skills and expertise to provide our clients with the tools and support they need to create lasting change.

 

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Vegetarianism – The Politically Correct Eating Disorder

For Immediate Release

When clients come to The CEDRIC Centre, an eating disorder counselling centre in Victoria , BC , the first creature to greet them is invariably a small black and white dog named Runkie. Amongst The Centre’s clientele, Runkie is well known for his affectionate nature, and many find his presence a major draw during their recovery from an eating disorder.

Michelle Morand, founder and director of The Cedric Centre says, “For most people with eating disorders, depression is a key component. And while it’s well documented that companion animals positively impact depression, there haven’t been any formal studies conducted about companion animals and eating disorders, but the connection seems obvious to us here at The Centre. Clients coming here can feel very vulnerable, whether they’re new clients, or in the middle of working on some pretty big pieces. But Runkie helps people relax, his presence creates a sense of safety.”

Morand explains Runkie’s role, “Clients can choose to make Runkie as much or as little a part of their process as they feel comfortable with. He can provide a warm, soothing presence in sessions, or just be there for a visit before and after.”

So far, The Centre has received nothing but extremely positive feedback about Runkie. “His presence adds to the welcoming environment we strive to create.” Runkie helps people open up. He gives new clients a common interest and a focus for conversation. “He doesn’t care how you look, how much you weigh, or why you’re here. He just wants to be your friend,” Morand says. “And that kind of unconditional love is a powerful part of recovery.”

The CEDRIC, (Community Eating Disorder and Related Issues Counselling), Centre specializes in the treatment of clinical eating disorders, sub-clinical disordered eating patterns, and related issues such as anxiety, depression, and distorted body image. Their counselors provide bodywork, group, and individual counselling, as well as community outreach presentations for schools, educators, and health professionals. All of The CEDRIC Centre’s counsellors have long standing recovery from an eating disorder, and are proud to have facilitated the recovery of hundreds of men and women in Victoria , BC and beyond.

 

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Not Another New Year’s Resolution

Weight Loss Resolutions. It is predicted that more than three-quarters of all women between the ages of 25 and 54 make diet and weight-loss resolutions each year, according to a nationwide survey sponsored by Gardenburger Inc. Nearly nine out of ten respondents reported only occasional or no success, while almost half lost little or actually gained weight instead, the survey found.

Deb P., a CEDRIC Centre client puts it this way, “I didn’t realize I had an actual eating disorder, I just thought I had no will power and liked food too much. My work with The CEDRIC Centre has made it possible for me stop sticking a band-aid on the problem with constant diets, and start taking myself, and my needs, seriously.”

The CEDRIC Centre, (Community Eating Disorder and Related Issues Counselling), specializes in the treatment of clinical eating disorders, sub-clinical disordered eating patterns, and related issues such as anxiety, depression, and distorted body image. Their counselors provide bodywork, group, and individual counselling, as well as community outreach presentations for schools, educators, and health professionals. All of The CEDRIC Centre’s counsellors have long standing recovery from an eating disorder, and are proud to have facilitated the recovery of hundreds of men and women in Victoria , BC and beyond.

 

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Not Another New Year’s Resolution

For Immediate Release

It is predicted that more than three-quarters of all women between the ages of 25 and 54 make diet and weight-loss resolutions each year, according to a nationwide survey sponsored by Gardenburger Inc. Nearly nine out of ten respondents reported only occasional or no success, while almost half lost little or actually gained weight instead, the survey found.

Deb P., a CEDRIC Centre client puts it this way, "I didn’t realize I had an actual eating disorder, I just thought I had no will power and liked food too much. My work with The CEDRIC Centre has made it possible for me stop sticking a band-aid on the problem with constant diets, and start taking myself, and my needs, seriously."

The CEDRIC Centre, (Community Eating Disorder and Related Issues Counselling), specializes in the treatment of clinical eating disorders, sub-clinical disordered eating patterns, and related issues such as anxiety, depression, and distorted body image. Their counselors provide bodywork, group, and individual counselling, as well as community outreach presentations for schools, educators, and health professionals. All of The CEDRIC Centre’s counsellors have long standing recovery from an eating disorder, and are proud to have facilitated the recovery of hundreds of men and women in Victoria , BC and beyond.

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How to Handle Holiday Stuffing

How to Handle Holiday Overeating

For Immediate Release

Instead of worrying about weight gain and calories this season, Victoria , B.C. eating disorder expert Michelle Morand encourages people to enjoy the holidays guilt free as long as you know how to handle holiday overeating.

“There’s a perception that a little overindulging during the holidays is so me how dangerous. The truth is people have used food as a focal point for celebration since the dawn of time and a balanced relationship with food includes some social feasting,” says Michelle Morand, director and founder of The CEDRIC Centre.

“When we truly allow ourselves to eat as much as we’d like, of whatever we’d like, invariably, we end up eating less. So if you’re feeling especially out of control around food during the holidays, chances are food is an issue the rest of the year, too.”

What is the difference between bingeing and eating a lot at Christmas?

“I get asked that a lot,” Morand acknowledges. “The difference lies in how you feel afterwards: accepting and relaxed, or guilty and shameful? How often do you engage in overeating? If you overeat occasionally and can return to your normal eating patterns right away without guilt, then you’re probably experiencing a balanced relationship with food.” On the other hand, “If you’re eating consistently when you’re not hungry, and feel guilty and shameful afterwards, you’re likely experiencing disordered eating.”

With increased family expectations, more responsibilities, and increased spending it’s only natural to feel stressed at this time of year. “During times of stress, people turn to food, drugs, alcohol, and/or chemical substances to cope with their stress,” says Morand. “These coping strategies remain very popular for an obvious reason: they work, at least in the short run. But using overeating as a coping mechanism prevents us from learning how to deal with the true causes of our problems. As a result, we get trapped in a dependence upon overeating, especially during high stress times, such as the holidays.”

It’s Good to Know How to Handle Holiday Overeating

The cure for overeating? “Ironically it’s the last thing most people would ever dream of,” says Morand. “Successful treatment of all eating disorders involves looking at the root issues, finding new, healthier and life enhancing ways of coping, and allowing ourselves to eat, without guilt or shame .”

The CEDRIC, (Community Eating Disorder and Related Issues Counselling), Centre specializes in the treatment of clinical eating disorders, sub-clinical disordered eating patterns, and related issues such as anxiety, depression, and distorted body image. Their counsellors provide bodywork, group, and individual counselling, as well as community outreach presentations for schools, educators, and health professionals. All of The CEDRIC Centre’s counsellors have long standing recovery from an eating disorder, and are proud to have facilitated the recovery of hundreds of men and women in Victoria , BC and beyond.

The CEDRIC Centre’s Holiday Stress Helper

  1. Create Realistic Expectations-don’t try to make this the “Perfect Holiday.”
  2. Learn to say no to extra obligations.
  3. Allow yourself to enjoy every bite-without guilt. Remember that all binges stem from feelings of restriction.
  4. Create a budget for gift spending-you are entitled to be financially secure.
  5. Ask for help when you feel overwhelmed.
  6. Spend ti me only with those who respect you and with whom you feel safe.
  7. Visualize how you’d like to feel during the holidays- peaceful, relaxed, etc. What needs to happen and what do you need to do to make that happen?

 

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Teen Diets Lead to Weight Gain and Eating Disorders

Diets for Teens May Lead to Eating Disorders

For Immediate Release

According to recent research published in the U.S. medical journal, Pediatrics, diets for teens are three times more likely to become overweight than non-dieters.

The study tracked the dieting habits of 16, 882 participants aged nine to 14 over three years. It found that dieters gained more weight than those who did not. Dieters were also far more likely to binge eat and girls who dieted less often gained slightly less weight, but still significantly more than non-dieters.

“Essentially,” says Michelle Morand, Founder and Director of The CEDRIC Centre, “The study found that all dieting is counterproductive – children who dieted gained more, not less weight than non-dieters.” Morand, a recovered binge eater who now counsels others, isn’t surprised with the results. “When we imagine someone with an eating disorder, we think of a young woman with severe anorexia, and it’s easy to associate that image with extreme dieting. However, it’s harder to see the link between dieting and binge eating, but it exists. In fact , binge eating is a natural response to a diet that should be expected by anyone who diets.”

“Our culture is highly invested in the notion that diets work, to the tune of $33 billion a year,” Morand points out. “But 98% of diets fail, whether you’re 14 or 44.” In her work, Morand is seeing increasingly younger clients, and regularly receives calls and e-mail from parents of children who struggle with weight. “Dieting leads to a cycle of restrictive eating followed by bouts of overeating or binge eating. This is a natural, physiological response the body has perfected in response to starvation.” The fact that dieters were more likely to binge eat in the study than their non-dieting peers, supports this. “Without the diet, or a sense of restriction, there is no impetus to binge.”

“The cure for eating disorders addresses the root causes,” Morand explains. “And if you suspect your child is eating for emotional reasons, dieting is definitely not the way to approach the situation.” She says, “The more we emphasize weight and appearance, the more our children will engage in eating disorders like binge eating.”

The CEDRIC Centre, (Community Eating Disorder and Related Issues Counselling), specializes in the treatment of clinical eating disorders, sub-clinical disordered eating patterns, and related issues such as anxiety, depression, and distorted body image. Their registered clinical counselors provide bodywork, group, and individual counselling, as well as community outreach presentations for schools, educators, and health professionals. All of The CEDRIC Centre’s counsellors have recovered from an eating disorder, and are proud to have facilitated the recovery of hundreds of men and women in Victoria, BC and beyond.

 

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Help Provided to Overeater

Help for Overeaters and Chronic Dieters

By Jennifer McLarty
Victoria News
Apr 06 2005

Aileen Pickard has waged war against her body for nearly 50 years.

A compulsive over-eater and chronic dieter, the five-foot-two Salmon Arm resident has weighed as little as 115 pounds and as much as 250.

In her darkest moment, she could eat a dozen doughnuts, a pint of ice cream and a loaf of bread and still not feel full.

But last year, Pickard turned a corner after attending an emotional eating seminar hosted by Victoria ‘s Cedric Centre that there is help for overeaters.

The workshop helped identify the underlying reasons for her pattern of bingeing and dieting, and point her in a new direction of healthy eating.

“Food has always been a comfort – a friend. I used it to fill a void that really had nothing to do with eating at all,” said Pickard, 55.
“When I went to the Cedric Centre that was my last attempt. At first I didn’t believe what I was being told – that I could give up dieting. But I was willing to listen because nothing else had worked.”

The emotional eating seminar, facilitated by Cedric Centre founder Michelle Morand, will run again this weekend, April 8 to 10, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Its focus is helping women get to the root of their destructive eating habits, and teaching them that food isn’t the real problem.

Morand subscribes to the theory of natural eating – consuming what you want until you’re full, then letting your body find its own unmanipulated weight.

The concept can be tough to swallow for many women. But according to Morand, positive change is fleeting until the binge-diet cycle is broken.

“Many of our clients have spent years trying to treat their unbalanced relationship with food by using diets, only to find they gain more weight and become more unhappy with their bodies,” said Morand.

“Are you tired of dieting? Are you tired of feeling bad about your body? Do you have an unhealthy relationship with food that doesn’t meet the criteria of a clinical eating disorder? Then this would be an appropriate seminar for you.”

One year after attending the Cedric Centre workshop, Pickard has made peace with her body and started to lose weight.

She credits the Cedric Centre with her breakthrough, along with the discovery her weight problem has been exacerbated by a lazy thyroid.

She is now on medication, and practicing natural eating.

“When I’m in a stressful situation, I don’t even think about food now, which is a huge improvement for me,” said Pickard. “It’s still early days, but I I’m listening to my body and I feel I’ve really turned a corner. So, it is true that there is help for overeaters being provided, its just a matter of knowing where to look and whom to ask.

“It’s a momentous step in what’s been a lifelong journey.”

 

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Naked Truths

by, Caroline Skelton, staff writer Times Colonist, August 27th, 2004

This is Beautiful project celebrates women’s relationship with their body

As I write this, I am a size six. Maybe an eight. About a 30 around one place, 34 around another, and about 130 when I’m standing on our twitchy bathroom scale.

But last Sunday, I and 16 other women weren’t any numbers at all. We had no clothes to define our size, and no critics to point out our rolls or scars or fading tattoos.

And because we had no one to tell us otherwise, in the cocoon of the Lynda Raino studio we felt beautiful, just as we were.

We were just 17 of the 175 Victoria women who responded to Seattle photographer Amanda Koster’s call for participants in the first Canadian location of the This is Beautiful project.

Now on its third location (there are two locations in Seattle), Koster’s project draws together female participants of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds for a nude photo shoot and following gallery exhibition.

Her hope is to send these photos blazing into North American society, pushing the images of normal women into the cultural mainstream. Eventually, she hopes to produce calendars, a documentary and a book of her images.

In the age of twiggy supermodels and reality shows that carve normal bodies into walking Barbies, Koster says many women are getting fed up.

“They’re so ready to let go of all their body issues,” she says. She hears from the women in This is Beautiful, “I’m here and I’m alive and I’m existing, and why am I not in my own culture?”

The CEDRIC Centre, a community eating disorder counselling centre in Victoria, invited Koster to visit after seeing her in an interview with Q13 Fox news in Seattle.

“There’s such a lack of real images of women’s bodies out there,” said Brooke Finnigan, communications and administrative co- ordinator for the centre. And for many women, these images help to “create an unbalanced women’s relationship with their body.”

“We all have to learn the hard way that we’re fine just the way that we are.”

The women, who asked not to be identified by name, trickled in Sunday from a grab bag of lifestyles: Nurses, youth workers, media members, retirees, full-time mothers. One had terminal cancer, while another was pregnant, near her due date.

Two brought their babies — another brought her sprightly four- year-old daughter.

They all came for different reasons. For some, a violent past, sexual abuse, rape or eating disorder. For others, persistent struggles to love their bodies, despite worldly judgments.

Koster, now 33, had experienced both rape and bulimia before the age of 21.

But while in the studio, Koster asked us to dwell on the happy present, not sad pasts. Bring upbeat music, dance and have fun, she implored.

When robes started falling Sunday morning, I retreated to the change room, where I spent as much time as possible. After a night of restless nervousness and too much coffee, the thought of shedding my teddy bear bathrobe had about as much appeal as jumping out the studio window.

When I emerged, the bright studio was terrifyingly crowded with naked bodies. The women, leaning against the ballet bars and standing with crossed arms, looked like they were guests an awkward cocktail party. The question seemed to hang in the air: Where do you look when you’re talking to a naked woman?

“Sorry-s” and “Pardon me-s” were audible as bumping into other women became a very personal encounter.

The clock rolled toward noon, with Koster diving in and out of our makeshift social groups, camera snapping at, er, everything.

But as the stereo blasted an eclectic mix of everything from the Jackson 5 to celebratory Indian music, a new feeling started to eclipse the terror of naked small talk. Women began comparing their bodies.

“We have matching heart tattoos.”

“Did that piercing hurt?”

“Are we all innies?”

Suddenly, differences became laughable — as inconsequential as zipper or button flies.

Koster had warned me about this phenomenon. “Once we all get together and we take off our clothes and we’re standing there naked (we realize) ‘what’s the big deal?’ “

She says the photo shoots tap into something starving in untold numbers of women: Without clothing or props, they are somehow able to shed years of insecurities.

“It’s really showing their bodies, and it’s just a total release for the women,” she says. “You can’t hide behind anything.”

For many, removing one inhibition opened emotional floodgates. Some cried, while others told total strangers about years of inward terror — hating their bodies and feeling judged by the rest of the world.

Others simply revelled in the joy of sudden release, twirling and jumping to the music.

At a coffee shop later in the evening, Rita, Lynn and Barbara, who asked I only use their first names, looked back on the strange transformations.

Growing up, Rita’s family constantly reminded her, “you shouldn’t laugh so loud, shouldn’t talk to much, shouldn’t eat that, shouldn’t wear that,” she says. In the second grade, she went to the hospital to treat a case of pneumonia and put on 15 pounds. Since then, she has grappled with her weight.

“I’ve spent my entire life feeling less than,” she says.

On Sunday, she says all these body image issues were momentarily gone.

“It wasn’t about who had the least amount of stretch marks and who has the biggest boobs,” said Rita.

“People were feeling free to be whoever they wanted. To be in the moment,” said Barbara. She says the setting let her dispense with fears and judgments — “all of the layers that all of us carry.”

In the afternoon, Koster moved on to individual shots. Women chatted about dance classes at the YM-YWCA, or traded career ups and downs. Some cheered for those posing for pictures.

As the women congregated for a final group shot, they pressed together, with no “sorry-s” and “pardon me-s.” And at that moment, a fateful CD shuffle produced an appropriate song.

“It’s your thang, do what you wanna do,” blared from the stereo.

One woman took this message to heart. Lynn hopped onto the window ledge, posing for cars and buses stopped for the traffic light at Yates and Douglas Street.

Proudly, and without fear, she stood on the ledge, curling her biceps and lunging like a track star. The rest of us cheered.

Later she confessed she was thinking, “I have nothing to hide.”

When Koster had amassed over 150 e-mails from women interested in participating, she sent them all a questionnaire. One of the questions, she says, planted a seed in the minds of the recipients.

“Describe your beautiful body,” she asked. The responses ranged from descriptions of cellulite to life stories.

She chose participants for their diversity and enthusiasm — but some wrote back saying they no longer needed to be in the shoot. The question made them think about their bodies for the first time, and this was enough.

“People participate (in This is Beautiful) on many levels,” says Koster. “By thinking about it, or by talking about it with someone else.”

When she comes back in March to hang the exhibit, Koster hopes to do another shoot with the women who didn’t get a chance. But for now, she is intent on getting our 19 naked bodies out to the world.

She says the women in This is Beautiful become aware, “I’m standing here and I’m OK … I feel support and I feel compassion,” even without cloth
es, props, glamour lighting, or surgical nips and tucks.

And Koster says, “my goal is for that feeling to resonate everywhere.”

On the Web:

Amandakoster.com

thisisbeautiful.org

(Copyright Times Colonist (Victoria) 2004)

 

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Seminar Tackles Emotions Behind Eating

Appeared in October 2003 Issue of Island Parent Magazine

You’ve prepared a wonderful dinner for your family. Chicken Marsala , fresh spinach salad, and a creamy risotto. Just as you’re about to tuck in, the kids start to complain. They pick at the rice, stab at the chicken, and whine about the spinach. The battle over food has begun.

You want them to eat healthy, nutritious meals, and they want hot dogs and ice cream.

Over the years, our perceptions about parenting and food have changed. We’ve been implored to make sure our children eat enough fruits and veggies, avoid processed foods, and watch their fat intake. The results have left everyone, especially concerned parents, scratching their heads. Because if this approach works, then why isn’t it working?

A third of Canada ‘s adults are considered obese, as are a quarter of our children. Thirty-three percent of women report the onset of an eating disorder at the ages of eleven-fifteen. Fifty percent of nine-year-old girls and eighty percent of ten-year-old girls have dieted. Fifteen percent of college aged women relate to the term disordered eating, and thirty percent of the nation admits to binge eating. Yet, we’re also a nation of calorie counters, dieters, and health conscious parents.

The dichotomy lies in the Diet Mentality, and the answer lies in Natural Eating.

The Diet Mentality is a way of thinking that has been ingrained in us by messages we receive from our family and friends, from advertisements, and media messages. These views about how we should look, feel and behave have become a part of our way of life. According to the diet me ntality, there are good and bad foods and you are good or bad depending on what you eat, and how much. Eating is restricted to certain times of the day, (breakfast, lunch, dinner), which forces us to tune out to our body’s natural hunger and fullness signals.

Natural Eating, the opposite of the diet mentality, isn’t defined by rules. It’s about listening to your body, and feeding it on demand. Everything is legal. Pizza for breakfast, pancakes for dinner. As long as you’re eating when you’re physically hungry and stopping at fullness, you’re eating naturally. But rather than being the precursor for wild abandon and unchecked indulgence, the fact that we are allowing ourselves what we really want, actually means we eat less and are more satisfied. Therefore, we focus less on food.

A basic analogy is one every parent can understand: Potty training. Why is it that after toddlers are potty trained, we step back and never question their inalienable right to use the bathroom, when and where they need it? After a child learns to use the bathroom successfully on their own, we trust their judgment that they will be able to regulate themselves, and know when to use the bathroom.

Eating can and should be, the same way. It’s a natural function, and at one point, we were all able to regulate our hunger. If we were lucky as infants and toddlers, our cries for hunger were answered, regardless of whether it was a set mealtime . We ate when we were hungry, and stopped when we reached fullness. It is very, very rare for an infant or toddler to be obese, unless, a caretaker intercedes in some way, or there is an existent medical condition. Unless food becomes an emotional issue, there is no reason for children to overeat on a daily basis.

A recent study conducted by Donna Sprujitz Metz at USC, showed that the more a parent pressured a child to eat, the less the child ate. The flip side is also true: The more parents pressure children not to eat the more the child internalizes the message, “I’m not okay the way I am,” and seeks comfort in food – thus eating more rather than less. Alternately, if a parent motivates a child to eat something they don’t want with promises of a treat after, they unwittingly give the child two very conflicted messages. First, tune out to your internal signals of fullness. Secondly, someone else knows more about your needs than you do. Parents must set some boundaries. But, making a child eat something they don’t want, and then rewarding their behaviour with food, sends a very dangerous message that distances our children from the natural signals that their bodies give off about fullness and hunger levels.

Here are some common questions parents have on the topic:

If I follow the Natural Eating approach won’t my child binge on junk food and become overweight? Aren’t I encouraging obesity?

In the beginning of the process, your child may consume a diet that is filled with processed, fatty foods. And this is when it’s most important to step back, and reserve judgment. Once your child trusts that they will not be restricted or criticized, those previously taboo foods lose all power and allure. Part of growing up is becoming independent. Eventually, your children will have to learn to make food choices on their own. If they’re school aged, they already do so on a daily basis: at school, with friends, and while you’re apart. Giving them the tools and permission to stay in touch with their inner hunger and fullness signals is a gift.

Okay, this sounds like something my family would like to try, how?

Letting go of control of your child’s diet is difficult in our culture. Giving them autonomy over their food intake will take ti me and practice. Start with a discussion. Let your children know you’re trying something new, you’re letting them make their own decisions around food, and you trust them. Your child won’t starve, won’t become undernourished, or overweight if you let them have what they want without guilt. Guilt is a major factor in disordered eating.

The body knows what it needs. Eventually, the body will demand veggies, fruit, and whole grains. Continue to provide these options, model natural eating for your children and they, too will associate food with nourishment.

What if I let my child eat whenever he/she wants and the overeating or constant eating of junk food continues? How long, is too long?

How long depends on each child. Generally, a parent could expect that the more the child perceived certain foods as being off limits, the more time he or she will need to adjust to their newfound freedom, and experiment with hunger, satiety, and even overeating. 3-6 months would be average. After that, it’s probably time to check in as a family.

What do I do if my child is reaching for food when they aren’t hungry?

Occasionally, even natural eaters will use food for emotional comfort. This is normal. If you see your child reaching for cookies after being teased during school, and you know she’s just eaten, you can bet she is eating to soothe her pain. Let her have her cookies, and talk to her after the binge. By doing this, you’ve acknowledged both emotional pain and her autonomy. Most importantly, you’ve provided her with alternate coping skills. Next time, she’ll be able to deal with the problem directly.

On the other hand, if your child is consistently reaching for food for comfort, this is an indication that they have adopted food as a coping mechanism to avoid other, more painful issues. If your child is frequently eating/restricting for emotional reasons, it’s important to get help.

By following natural eating as a family, you’re giving your children independence, and encouraging them to trust themselves and their bodies. Gone are the heated arguments and the power struggles over food. Your children are less likely to develop eating disorders, to diet, and are more likely to have higher self-esteem and self-awareness.

By, Brooke Finnigan

 

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Women asked to bare it all for health

Amanda Koster in Vancouver Island women are being asked to bare it all for a multimedia documentary that celebrates the female form in all its shapes, sizes, colours and abilities.

Koster’s photography will be in Victoria Aug. 21 and 22 to make a photo shoot and interview subjects who’re willing to pose nude for her project, This is Beautiful.

Amanda Koster, Working with The Cedric Centre

“I work in the media and wanted to contribute with images that I think are beautiful, in addition to those that are already out there,” said Koster, who’ll be working with The Cedric Centre, an eating disorder counselling program based in Victoria.

“I want people to look at these photographs and accept who we really are, feel comfortable with these women and their bodies and respect them.”
Koster first began working on This is Beautiful in 2001 in collaboration with fellow artist Sandra Marchese. The pair issued a call to women across Seattle to be photographed nude and then write about their bodies.

One of the people who took part was a Seattle Times reporter, who agreed to publish her experience for the newspaper. The piece garnered such an “electric response” from women across the United States that This is Beautiful gained momentum for a second chapter in 2002.

Amanda Koster stop in Victoria will mark the third installment, after staff at The Cedric Centre saw a televised news item about her work on Q13 Fox and encouraged her to visit Canada.

“Women of all ages are under incredible pressure to strive towards an arbitrary physical ideal, and it’s up to all of us to counter those messages with positive images that celebrate all women as beautiful,” said Michelle Morand, Cedric Centre founder and counsellor.

Anyone interested in the August photo shoot can get more information at http://www.thisisbeautiful.org.
“I don’t pose anyone. I don’t tell them what to do. I’m looking for the natural interaction of different bodies, what they look like when they come together, and the beauty of that diversity,” said Koster, who’s struggled with her own body issues and eating disorders.

“For some reason, every day we don’t see that diversity, or accept it. If you go to my website, and you don’t see yourself there, then please consider coming out”
Koster – who has worked for several national U.S. magazines including Newsweek – will return to Victoria in the New Year for an exhibit of her photos and a book that chronicles the project.
Her other multi-media works include AIDS Is Knocking, a still and video documentary of AIDS orphans and widows in Kenya.

Reprinted from the Saanich News

 

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